Thursday, April 7, 2016

Notes on a Broken Life

“Why, Lady, is it that I have to produce anything today? Look at your café—it’s completely filled with known homosexuals. One of them, in fact, is exposing his…well, this is a respectable blog, so I can’t say what it is. Anyway, he’s not wearing underpants, and he’s also caressing the upper thigh of his companion. Nine couples—I just counted.”

“Well, there’s never a dull moment in the café,” said Lady. “Anyway, have you heard about my new scooter?”

I had, in fact, since her brother had told me. What I haven’t  done is actually seen the thing, though I’m trying to imagine it. Will it have racing stripes? Will it be painted fire engine red? Will it purr, as it moves, or will it spout poetry?

Anyway, I want to see it, but what I really wonder about, just now, is kintsugi.

“And that would be?” asked Lady, looking up from the little casita she is painting.

“It’s this Japanese thing, but it has all this mystical overtone to it. Anyway, instead of throwing away broken pottery, as any sensible civilization has done, they repair first with lacquer, and then with gold. In short, they embrace and emphasize the defect. Look, here’s an example:


“Well, that’s completely no help to archeologists,” said Lady, who though being a poet does have a practical side. “What are they going to discover when they go digging?”

“I have no idea,” I told her. “But we’re always trying to seek perfection, and always failing. Does anyone have it all? The perfect spouse, the perfect house—sorry for all these rhymes….”

“The perfect louse, the perfect grouse, let’s see…there should be something else…”

“The perfect mouse,” I told her, “oh, and for you, the perfect blouse.”

“Wasn’t this supposed to be serious?” asked Lady. “Embracing your defects, or glorifying—or perhaps goldifying—your cracks. How many times have you been broken, Marc?”

I consider this: there are days I feel that I’ve never been anything but broken. Nor am I sure, somehow, that I’ve repaired well. Anyway, I definitely can’t afford to buy enough gold to fill in the cracks….

“You know,” I tell her, “I have half a mind to run over to Marshall’s, conveniently right across the street, and buy the most beautiful thing I can find. Then, I’ll sit in meditation until precisely the right moment. At that point, I’ll take a hammer, and deliver one swift blow. Or perhaps I’ll simply drop it—though there might be splinters in that case. Anyway, I’ll break the damn thing, and then collect the shards, one by one, and meditate over each one.”

“Do you know what you’d find?”

“Well, there are the obvious ones, of which sexuality is a major crack. Every time I see twenty year-old kids who are so freely gay, I remember how long it took me to get…well, nowhere near so far.”

“You think so?”

“They’re so free. They have no idea that there might be objection, that there might be a bottle thrown, or a fist. I grew up in a time of fag bashing, and I learned early on how to be straight acting. Not sure that was a good thing….”

“Why not?” asked Lady. “Anyway, do you want to act gay?”

“Not really,” I told her. “But I don’t particularly like having how I behave dictated by somebody else. One break, certainly, and it nearly killed me. In fact, there was one time when I thought that I would have to end my relationship with my parents. I figured it would be better if I just drifted off, and not call them or visit them. I thought they’d sort of forget about me….”


“Well, it made sense at the time, though now it seems crazy. Then there was the cello, and that was wrenching—almost worse than being gay. Though I wonder, sometimes, if the two issues weren’t related, somehow.”

“What does being gay have to do with playing the cello?”

“Nothing, except that both are about finding and coming into peace with your own voice. You know, gay men my age spent a lot of time passing, a lot of time pretending to be something else. So when I sat down to the cello, I had to be Rostropovich or Starker, or something akin. I had all of these expectations, and I could never get the sounds I heard in my head out of the cello. It was agonizing; I used to get so frustrated, I would bite myself, and leave teeth marks in my forearm.”


“Strange, hunh? You know, one of the things about Puerto Rico is how utterly natural the musicians are. Even students seem freer, easier than in the states. Maybe it has to do with how naturally people approach dance….”

“And then?”

I think to myself—what hasn’t broken? My spirit? Well, what’s depression? My professional life? My personal life?  Yes, they’ve all been fractured, at some point, even up to my back, which got broken six months ago.

“There may be something to it,” I tell her. “At any rate, it’s probably better to think that you have repaired yourself, made yourself stronger and more beautiful, and thus more valuable. Better that, than to think of yourself as still broken….”

But aren’t I?